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Spain's PM Rajoy set for high-stakes regional election

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Spain's PM Rajoy set for high-stakes regional election
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The stakes are high for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as his home region of Galicia holds a municipal election.

The region is normally a stronghold for his PP party. But Sunday’s vote is being seen as a referendum on the PM’s bank bailout, spending cuts and tax hikes, as well as the seeming inevitability of a second eurozone rescue package.

Analysts say Rajoy is hoping to hold off an aid request until after the election as it is expected to come with many strings attached. One of the conditions would likely be that he reform the pension system, a move that would anger many voters.

However with a recent poll showing that around 40 percent of voters in the region are still undecided, the result is very difficult to predict. A victory would give Rajoy a much needed political boost, following a spate of nationwide protests against government’s austerity measures.

Elections are also set to take place in the Basque Country on Sunday, a region where the desire for independence is growing by the day.

Marian Urkiola, a doctor living in the region, says she thinks independence is inevitable:

“Sooner or later independence is the logical thing, that’s what I think, but it is not necessary to follow Catalonia or Scotland. I think that we have been asking it for long time and it has been shown that the Basque Country has an identity as a country.”

The vote comes while Spain is stuck in its second recession since 2009. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the economy will shrink by 1.5 percent next year.